The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of different menu labelling formats on healthy food choices in a real restaurant setting.
This cross-sectional, randomised and controlled parallel-group trial was conducted in Brazil in 2013. In total, 313 university students were randomly assigned to one of three parallel groups with different menu labelling formats. Of these, data from 233 students were analysed. The others did not attend and were excluded. Intervention Group 1 (n=88) received information in the form of a traffic light plus guideline daily amounts, while Intervention Group 2 (n=74) was presented with ingredients list plus highlighted symbols (IL+S). The control group (n=71) received a menu with no menu labelling. Data were collected on one weekday in a restaurant setting. Trial outcomes were assessed by healthy food choices.
Healthy food choices of students who received the menu showing IL+S were significantly higher when compared to the other groups. This same menu labelling format positively affected healthy food choices in women, not overweight participants and in participants who often ate out more than twice a week.
Menu labelling format presenting ingredients list and highlighted symbols was positively associated with healthy food choices among the university students in Brazil. This type of labelling could be adopted in future legislation on menu labelling in Brazil and around the world.
The authors acknowledge the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development in Brazil – Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for funding (No. 485004/2012-7). The authors also acknowledge the Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education in Brazil – Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for PhD scholarships granted, PhD international internship scholarship, as well as Senior international internship scholarship. Last, the authors acknowledge Science Without Borders program for the PhD internship scholarship granted and for the Postdoc international scholarship granted. The authors also thank the students for their participation. The present study was supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development in Brazil – Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and the Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education in Brazil – CAPES, Ministry of Education of Brazil, Brasilia, DF, Brazil. The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.
Oliveira, R.C., Fernandes, A.C., da Costa Proença, R.P., Hartwell, H., Rodrigues, V.M., Colussi, C.F. and Fiates, G.M.R. (2018), "Menu labelling and healthy food choices: a randomised controlled trial", British Food Journal, Vol. 120 No. 4, pp. 788-803. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-04-2017-0248
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